Republican nomination

Reuters poll shows Ron Paul in second

While the media focus in recent weeks has been the on the battle between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — and more recently Rick Santorum, as he begins to pull some conservatives into his camp, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Ron Paul is now second in the field (though within the margin of error).

  • Mitt Romney: 29%
  • Ron Paul: 21%
  • Newt Gingrich: 20%
  • Rick Santorum: 18%

I spoke to a friend last night about the race. He just happened to be in Nevada over the weekend and he explained that it’s a “likeability” factor. Even though he’s not a supporter, he thinks Paul comes across as the most consistant, most genuine with the clearest convictions of the remaining four candidates. Aaron Blake caught this in the entrance polls out of Nevada, showing that caucus-goers viewed Paul as the “true conservative” in the race.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this will translate into primary or caucus wins. Clearly and unfortunately, it hasn’t. But it does show that the libertarian-leaning message Paul presents to Republican voters, even at this late moment in the race, is gaining more traction and may be difficult to ignore in this and future elections.

Newt Gingrich is imploding

After finishing a distant second to Mitt Romney in Nevada on Saturday, Newt Gingrich became unhinged during an evening press conference, promising a prolonged battle for the Republican nomination:

Newt Gingrich vowed again to stay in the Republican presidential contest until the convention in August and said he will spend the next several months engaged in a bitter battle with Mitt Romney.

Speaking to the press after the Nevada caucuses Saturday, Mr. Gingrich repeatedly hammered Mr. Romney as a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-taxes candidate who has the backing of the Republican establishment.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” he said. “I will be a candidate for president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

Mr. Romney ignored Mr. Gingrich in his victory speech tonight. But Mr. Gingrich seemed insistent on making sure that his rival cannot simply look the other way.

He accused Mr. Romney of purposely leaking false information about Mr. Gingrich’s plans to drop out of the presidential race, calling that Mr. Romney’s “greatest fantasy” in the race.

And Mr. Gingrich said that recent meetings he held with donors were meant to map out a plan to continue getting his message out despite Mr. Romney’s superior fund-raising.

“The entire establishment will be against us,” he predicted. But he said that by appearing on national television and doing interviews in newspapers, he will spread his agenda.

“The American people want somebody who is genuinely conservative, who is prepared to change Washington,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Romney leads by 20 points in Nevada

With a win in Florida under his belt, Mitt Romney is looking west to the caucus in Nevada tomorrow where the latest poll shows him leading his rivals for the Republican nomination by a large margin.

The poll, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) and the local CBS affiliate, shows Romney taking 45% of the vote among likely caucus-goers, with a substantial amount of support coming from Mormons. Romney also performs well with “strong supporters” of the Tea Party movement, taking 27% of the important faction in the Republican base. Gingrich takes 37% of Tea Party voters.

Here is how the rest of the poll shakes out:

  • Mitt Romney: 45%
  • Newt Gingrich: 25%
  • Rick Santorum: 11%
  • Ron Paul: 9%

Gingrich’s numbers have fallen off since the last LVRJ poll, which was conducted just before Christmas. At that time Gingrich was down four points to Romney — inside the margin of error, so they were essentially tied — in a state where many observers didn’t expect much of contest. Fast-forward to today, Romney is enjoying his highest level of support in Nevada.

The poll is disappointing (and surprising) for Ron Paul, who largely skipped out on the primary in Florida to focus on caucus states. As you can see, Paul is set to finish last, despite being “deeply organized” in the state, according to the LVRJ. He finished second there in 2008, though the process was controversial.

Donald Trump endorses Mitt Romney

After some early morning confusion, Donald Trump, who had flirted with the idea of running for the GOP nomination last year, has endorsed Mitt Romney:

Celebrity business magnate Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president Thursday, telling reporters he will not mount an independent campaign if Romney is the Republican nominee.

Trump, who has repeatedly flirted with the possibility of his own White House bid, revealed his decision in Las Vegas two days before Nevada’s Saturday caucuses.

Media outlets had said that Trump would endorse Newt Gingrich, which made sense given that the former Speaker pandered heavily heavily to the reality TV show host. However, these have obviously turned out to be false.

The endorsement is interesting for a couple of different reasons. Trump’s endorsement is actually a negative in the minds of voters. Let’s face it, it became clear that his consideration of a presidential bid and Birtherism were nothing more Trump being a publicity whore, and voters saw right through it.

The other reason is because Romney snubbed Trump at the end of last year by declining an invitation to a Newsmax-sponsored debate that he was slated to moderate. Gingrich and Rick Santorum had opted to attend.

Looking ahead in the race for the GOP nomination

As had come to be expected in days prior, Mitt Romney took Florida easily last night over Newt Gingrich, who defiantly promised to press on for the forseeable future despite the struggling to win a state where he had a lead a week before the primary.

Here are the results of the Florida Republican primary:

  • Mitt Romney: 46%
  • Newt Gingrich: 32%
  • Rick Santorum: 13%
  • Ron Paul: 7%

Romney wins all of the state’s 50 delegates, which was cut by 50% per Republican National Committee rules due to the Florida GOP holding its primary before March 6th (Super Tuesday). Gingrich wins nothing and the momentum he had built after South Carolina has been squandered after a couple bad debate performances, particularly the one in Jacksonville last Thursday.

So where is the race as it stands now? It appears that Gingrich doesn’t have high hopes for the Nevada and Minnesota caucuses. You’d have to expect Ron Paul to be a factor in both of those states, where his campaign directed its focus instead of competing Florida. However, Super Tuesday, which will include his home state of Georgia, may offer more to Gingrich. We’ll get a clearer picture of what to expect next month in the coming days as polling firms will no doubt provide us with plenty of numbers.

Gingrich may not be aided by Santorum leaving the race

For those of you saying that Rick Santorum should get out of the race for the Republican nomination and endorse Newt Gingrich — the thinking being that it would unite the anti-Romney vote, there is new polling showing that this may not help knock off the GOP frontrunner:

Perhaps the most important number in the NBC-Marist poll was what happens when Santorum is removed from the race. Santorum’s vote splits off evenly if he’s removed, and Romney has an even WIDER lead over Gingrich, 49%-33%. So, Gingrich can’t make the argument that if conservatives weren’t divided he would win. The numbers just don’t bear that out. What’s really interesting — Santorum probably could argue that if GINGRICH weren’t in the race, he’d have a better chance against Romney. Santorum’s image is as good as it’s been since the campaign began.

That may be counterintuitive, but when you look at it, you’d have to make a lot of assumptions about Santorum’s supporters. I suppose some of it makes sense, being that evangelical Christians make up a lot of Santorum’s support, voters that may have an issue with voting for a Mormon.

And as much as I dislike diving into a candidate’s personal life, keep in mind that Gingrich’s has been married three times and has owned up to an affair. This is obviously going to be an issue to many religious-minded voters.

We’ll see what happens after tonight, but Santorum can justify sticking around for the time being. Whether he’s able to gain traction before Super Tuesday is an entirely different story. I’d never vote for the guy, but I think he may have another surge left in him before this is all said and done.

Gingrich pushed the individual mandate in 2009

While wondering around Facebook and Twitter yesterday, I saw quite a few of my conservative friends — proud members of the anti-Romney faction in the Republican Party — pointing to video from 2006 where then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was preparing to sign RomneyCare into law.

The reason the video is getting play is because Romney notes that he collaborated with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in pushing the law through, obviously a moment that’ll make many Republican groan, and rightfully so:

The Massachusetts healthcare reform law, which — as we’ve noted many times here before, including today, served as the template for Obama. But conservatives that hammer Romney on this issue and push Newt Gingrich as the alternative are conveniently forgetting that he supported many of the same ideas that became part of RomneyCare, and later ObamaCare.

Over the weekend, Verum Serum posted audio from a May 2009 Center for Health Transformation conference call where Gingrich very clearly calls for some form of a requirement on individuals to purchase health insurance coverage:

Herman Cain endorses Newt Gingrich

Seeking to remain relevant in Republican politics, Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich, in what couldn’t have been a more predictable move:

The move by the former GOP candidate and tea-party favorite comes three days before the Florida primary, at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory.
“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”

Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening.”

Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him. Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.).

Cain backed Romney in 2008, but both he and Gingrich are from Georgia and it was obvious during the debates that they had had an affection for each other. And while the endorsement will be played up by anti-Romney conservatives, Gingrich’s actions as Speaker of the House, such as trying to diminish the influence of fiscal conservatives, are continuing to come under fire.

Romney poised for a big win in Florida

We’ve got another round of polling out of Florida showing that Mitt Romney is poised for a big win. Just a week ago it seemed that momentum was in Newt Gingrich’s corner, but two bad debate performances and a couple of gaffes, including one that brought Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) out of his isolation to stick up for Romney, badly hurt him.

Here’s a look at the latest polling going back to those that were released at the beginning of last week. these show the dramatic swing from Gingrich to Romney in just a few days time.

Romney swings momentum to his corner in Florida

In just a couple of days, Newt Gingrich went from the likely winner of Tuesday’s primary in Florida to the underdog. So what has caused support to swing away from him and back to Mitt Romney? Well, a few things. Many Republicans are coming out to criticize Gingrich for various things, such as his time as Speaker of the House and his criticism of Ronald Reagan. Then there was the bad press he received as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took up for Romney when Gingrich compared him to Charlie Crist.

As you can see in the poll numbers that came out yesterday, a couple of days makes a world of difference in politics.

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